Smart Shopping Tips

12 Strategies to Save Your Hard-Earned Money

There is more variety on today's grocery store shelves than ever before. With so many choices, it is easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why I’d like to share some great ideas that will help you make the most of your time, budget, and nutrition. Why not make shopping as easy, stress-free, and productive as possible?

  1. Don’t shop when you are hungry. People tend to spend a lot more money and buy less healthy foods full of empty calories when they buy on impulse.

  2. Check out the sale ad and use coupons when possible.

  3. Choose seasonal produce items to get the greatest nutritional bang for your buck.

  4. Make a grocery list ahead of time and stick to it.

  5. Proteins, particularly meats, tend to be some of the most expensive items on a grocery budget. Consider purchasing a few inexpensive healthy proteins or vegetable-based proteins like canned tuna or salmon, eggs, beans, tofu, peanut butter, fat-free cottage cheese, or Greek yogurt.

  6. Here are two secrets about buying meat:

    a. Frozen meats are often cheaper than fresh meats.

    b. Ground meats are usually cheaper than whole cuts.

  7. Frozen fruits and veggies are cheaper than fresh produce, they last much longer (which means less wasted money), and they still have great nutritional value.

  8. Try buying in bulk, cooking in bulk, then freezing leftovers if you have the freezer space. You can even create your own 100 calorie snack packs using zippered snack bags.

  9. Research various stores prices. If you have time, you may be able to save money by purchasing certain items at specific stores.

  10. If you live alone, ask the butcher to cut only what you need so you can buy a smaller quantity of meat. This avoids waste and extra expenses if you are not able to store frozen leftovers for later.

  11. Check the unit pricing on prepackaged items in the corner of the shelf price tag. Try to buy the package size that is the lowest price per unit. For example, often the family sized cereal boxes can save you several cents per ounce. This works best if you know you will be able to use the item before it goes out of date.

  12. Check the upper and lower shelves. Grocery stores generally place higher priced items at eye-level because consumers tend to buy the items that are easiest to see. Look at the top and bottom shelves for potential better bargains. Also, often the healthier (and less expensive) items tend to be more difficult to find.

  13. Packaged, prepared foods are more expensive and generate bigger profits. You can save quite a bit of money by buying food you have to assemble yourself instead of food that is prepackaged.

3 Strategies to Save Your Valuable Time

  1. Make a meal plan for the week prior to your shopping trip.

  2. Make your grocery list by food category (meat, dairy, frozen, canned, produce, etc…) or according to store flow. It’s a big time saver if you can list the items you need in the exact order you will come across them in the store. This also helps you avoid missing an item on your list. There is nothing more frustrating than having to go back to the store again and waste time when you could have gotten everything in one trip!

  3. Go alone if possible. Children, especially younger children, may need a lot of your time and attention which can certainly add quite a few minutes to your shopping trip. They also tend to want you to buy treats and things that are not part of your grocery budget or your nutrition goals for your family.

As you begin to make these ideas weekly habits, they get easier. You may also find that your shopping experience becomes more streamlined, targeted, and less stressful. Then you can focus on enjoying all of that time and money you saved. You’ll also be much better prepared to make healthy, nutritious meals and snacks for your family and yourself. It’s a win all-around!

Farrah Wigand